Blog with Joel Brookman

Social Interaction Drives Happiness

A study was done that suggested that people from Denmark are the happiest in the world. Their happiness was attributed to their social interaction. It seems that 92% of Danes are members of some form of social group. Humans are social beings. We thrive when we are in the presence of those we enjoy. Another study was done in the late 90’s that suggested that 70 percent of our happiness is derived from our personal relationships. That includes, family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

We all have special people we have met at some point in our lives. People for which we enjoy spending time. How many of those connections have you maintained?

My wife always reminds me how fortunate I am to have such a large number of great friends. I have managed to stay in touch with a group of people that I have known since birth. Four of us were born within five months of each other, our parents were close and we maintain contact to this day, nearly 50 years later. I have another group of friends from High School, a large crew from college, a group of clients and co-workers that go back 20 years, and the most recent group are parents of my children’s friends. When we have events that bring these people together it’s amazing. Many lasting friendships have been established between friends from each of these groups. It’s rewarding to know that I was a catalyst for the creation of those friendships.

One reason that I have been able to maintain these long-term friendships is that I actively maintain connections with people. While I’m not the person spending hours on social media or making phone calls every day, I rarely go longer than six months before engaging with the people I most enjoy.

The challenge many people experience in sustaining friendships is that they become consumed by daily life. Since we don’t naturally interact with most of our friends, we can lose touch with them. Maintaining the relationship requires both parties to put forth effort. I have had many friendships that have fizzled due to inaction by the other party. I used to let this bother me but I’ve come to realize that I can only do so much. If a friend is not willing to maintain contact, I let go. Sometimes they come around, but more often they do not.

Act on the urge to connect

When you think of someone that you haven’t spoken to in some time, that is your opportunity to react. Don’t ignore that inspiration, reach out.

Plan a weekend

Trading emails, interacting on social media or phone conversations are not a substitute for personal interaction. Plan a weekend with a group of friends. Choose a fun location, arrange activities, and you will have an experience you will never forget. If you feel like you can spend more than a weekend, make it a vacation.

Social Media

Social media makes it easy to stay connected to larger groups of people. While there are tremendous benefits to utilizing social media, there are a some challenges. One of those challenges is the amount of time it takes. Social media can become addictive and take up tremendous blocks of time. There’s a fine line between staying connected and becoming absorbed. I don’t understand the people that feel the need to broadcast every detail of their life. Next time you are about to post something, review your network of connections. Choose someone that represents the mid-point of your list (not your best friend and not a person you could care less about, someone in between). Make this person your avatar. Would your chosen avatar care about what you are about to post? If you are not sure, would you haven interest in a similar post from them? If the answer is no, don’t do it. Instead send it out as a private message to only those that would have an interest. In the end social media can be a convenient way to keep up with what friends are doing but it’s not a replacement for personal interaction.

Celebrate the milestones

Reunions, wedding anniversaries and big birthdays are all milestones. It’s great to celebrate certain milestones with the people you enjoy, especially those where you have shared history. Just be sure to do these things while they’re possible. I was planning a surprise 80th birthday party for my mother a few months back. I began compiling the guest list only to realize that most of her closest friends were either no longer alive or not ambulatory enough to make the event.

Countless studies have proven that more happiness is derived through personal relationships than from money or any other activity you can do. Stay in touch with those you enjoy most by becoming the catalyst that brings people together.

Posted by Joel Brookman in happiness, Make people like you, relationships.


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